A new production of Lot Vekemans’ play “Poison,” directed by award-winning Mexican director Katina Medina Mora, stays in audiences’ minds for days.
Mora — better known for her work directing some episodes of the Netflix hit “Emily in Paris” — chose “Poison,” a play about grief, nostalgia, and the difficulty of love overcoming trauma, as her first production since she moved to New York earlier this year.
“To me, grief is a reminder of the fragility of life,” she said. “It made me question a lot of how I live. It is a learning with a very good punch in the stomach, but you start questioning, ‘How am I living my life? Am I really enjoying myself?’ You learn to not worry about stupid things and to pursue a purpose. And the sadness might never end, but you learn to live with it and hopefully, it will turn into fire.”
Starting conversations about grief has been a big part of the director’s career. After accompanying her aunt through the loss of her son, Medina Mora made the movies “Lu To” and “Y
“I saw [Poison] the same year he died and I remember I cried which helped so much,” said Medina Mora. “I’ve always thought this play has that power.”
Cast members Emma Ramos and Richard M. Carrillo unfold a battle of feelings between an old familiarity, resentment and the yearning for forgiveness back and forth — all with a palpable chemistry between their characters.
“Sometimes you’re with her, sometimes you’re with him and no one is more of a victim,” the director said.
The play poses a question the director said commonly revolves in her mind —”What if nothing else happens after this? If I died now, would I be happy?”
“I’ve had those several times in my life,” she said. “I call them epiphanies and they are tough moments. When I finished studying filmmaking and I had the dream of becoming a director, I wasn’t getting any jobs. And it hit me as I was crossing a bridge, looking at the water, listening to music. The word believe came to me and now I have it tattooed.”
The show takes place in Unit J, an art studio turned into the main actor’s home, turned into a theater.
Medina Mora is developing two movies in the U.S. which will be her first movies in English.
“Because of the [actors’] strike, I’m not shooting anything, and so it just seemed like the perfect timing to do it, to fulfill a dream, to do theater and have a first credit here in New York,” she said. “I thought it would take a couple of years, and then suddenly it happened. Now I’m ready for more.”
Poison will run at Unit J Loft at 338 Moffat St. in Bushwick until Dec. 2. $40 tickets are available here.